Last week there was a lot of worry heading into the divisional round game with the Ravens. The matchups were troublesome in various spots, and Baltimore had some edges in areas in which the Patriots were quite as strong.
Turned out a lot of those concerns were warranted as the Ravens nearly pulled off the upset.
This week the talk has been far different. There have been virtually no dissenting opinions when it comes to matching up the Patriots and Colts. Few believe the visitors stand a chance, and the reason for that is most of the areas in which Indy is strong the Patriots match up quite well.
Andrew Luck is one of the best young quarterbacks in football and he has a variety of weapons to choose from. But the Patriots secondary, led by Darrelle Revis, has been a strength all season long. The Colts have a smaller, faster front seven that can be disruptive when blitzing, but doing so against Tom Brady is generally a recipe for disaster.
In other words, the Patriots are prohibitive favorites in the game and unlike last week there doesn't seem to be much concern as we head toward the weekend.
But, like last week, our Samsonite Make Your Case question of the week asks: Which matchup are you most concerned about in Sunday's game against the Colts?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
Andrew Luck vs. Patriots defense
Luck is clearly the biggest issue that the Patriots need to deal with on Sunday night. An epic performance by the former No. 1 overall pick and third-year passer is just about the only chance the Colts have at pulling off the upset.
Luck is big, strong and a unique leader. He can make all the throws and all the runs. Bill Belichick called him essentially a sixth receiver in the passing game that the defense has to deal with. Luck will spread the ball around and look to make plays through the air. He won't wilt in the face of a playoff battle with Tom Brady. He won't wilt if he makes a mistake or if his team falls behind.
Luck and his beard are coming to Gillette Stadium thinking they can win. The Patriots need to play solid defense – controlled, efficient pass rush and solid, consistent coverage – to make sure that doesn't happen.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
Colts TEs vs. Patrick Chung
Tight ends have caused a lot of problems for the Patriots defense this season. Only two teams have allowed more yards to the position all year, and Coby Fleener racked up a career-high 144 in the first meeting. That came against Brandon Browner for the most part, but Patrick Chung and the rest of the defense needs to be prepared this time around.
Fleener and Dwayne Allen represent a talented pass-catching duo at tight end. Allen is the more athletic of the two but is constantly battling injuries. He left the first game early but is healthy this time around. Chung has been more competitive in coverage this year but still struggles at times, as he did last week with Owen Daniels.
The Patriots can't allow Andrew Luck to get comfortable moving the chains by throwing to his tight ends, and with Donte Moncrief emerging for the Colts and requiring some attention from the corners, the safeties and linebackers will likely be asked to handle that assignment.
There aren't many matchups that concern me, but pass-catching tight ends always seem to give New England trouble.
Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll.